As many readers of this blog may know, I am a school teacher. One of the classes I teach is the Student Newspaper class, where my students largely run it while I just supervise. Every once in a while, however, I like to throw an article out there for the student body. Below is the article I just cranked out, and felt it was enough to add to this blog, to swing things away from the political, ever so slightly. Regardless below, I hope you enjoy:
Now that the MLB off-season is in full-swing, it is time for teams to start thinking about what went well last season, and what needs to be improved upon. For the Minnesota Twins, despite making the playoffs, there was a lot to be desired, namely with pitching.
Last year’s starting rotation was often a game of musical chairs that saw many journeymen and AAAA starters making the rounds. This was a list that included guys such as Dillon Gee, and even the 44 year old “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon. The only two players of consistency were Ervin Santana and Jose Berios. Outside of that, the other 3 spots were often times an opportunity for the opposing team to get a good BP session in.
The other half of our pitching situation saw largely ineffective relief pitchers cycling in and out of the team between AAA and the MLB. The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler when the season appeared to be a complete wash, therefore shipping out our only consistent and competent reliever, as well as our 9th inning man. After this trade, however, the offense started clicking, despite a Miguel Sano injury, and the Twins started winning. Relying on journeyman Matt Belisle, who couldn’t seem to keep the ball in the park, to often times close out games for us left fans frustrated, watching leads dwindle in the late innings.
So what can the Twins do about this? General Manager Thad Levine has recently gone on record that saying top free agent Yu Darvish will be a top priority for the Twins to sign, despite the knowledge that he will receive the richest contract for an SP for this coming season. Darvish is coming off of a season that saw him struggling in the playoffs, and struggling after a trade to the Dodgers, but he still was able to amass 10Ks per 9 innings, which is something the Twins have been lacking for years.
The Twins have also made it known that they’re interested in Shohei Ohtani once he is posted by the Nippon Fighters over in Japan. Ohtani is an interesting player, as he has had success both as a power bat but also an effective starter. This is largely unheard of in the MLB, to have a duel threat batter/pitcher. It is thought that many teams would rather make him either pitch or bat, but Ohtani has made it well known that he intends on doing both and will make his team choice not based on the size of the contract, but the ability to have some freedom in his position play. The Twins are in a great position to be able to accommodate for this, as we have no clear player set for the DH position going into next season. Could that be a plus for landing Ohtani? One can hope.
As for the need to acquire quality relievers, we have not alluded to any plan or players, yet. There isn’t a strong crop of top end relief pitchers on the market, so we might have to make a trade. Teams such as the Marlins are looking to cut payroll, so they’d be a good place to start. Other teams, such as the Reds are in sell-mode, as well, so they could be looking to trade established RPs, as well. Hopefully Levine and company are able to string together a deal or two to help secure the final innings of a ballgame.
Regardless of what should happen this off-season, the Twins should be an interesting team to watch next year, Nobody expected that a team which lost over 100 games in 2016 could make the playoffs in 2017, especially without having much roster turnover. Paul Molitor definitely will have his work cut out for him for 2018 as he manages this Twins squad for another season.